“We really do need to think differently about how we do development in this country."
SA Institute of Black Property Professionals president Tholo Makhaola says townships are a product of the apartheid city template, where surburbia was centralised around cores with booming economic activity and townships were predominantly residential enclaves on the periphery.
“Property in the townships is viewed as shelter that is currently passed down from generation to generation, a situation that stems from our country’s history of displacements and, therefore, people feel the need to hold on to the ‘shelter’ aspect of their property. They do not see the economic value of the asset that would allow them to access capital.”
Vuyiswa Mutshekwane, chief executive of the institute, speaking during a recent Rainmaker webinar, says: “About 70% of our population is living in urban areas looking for land, looking for strategically located housing that is close to opportunities and where they work, or looking for decent aspirational developments.
“I deal with a lot of South Africans who come from townships. They don’t want to leave the townships but they want to be close to work, good schools and they want to have access to good healthcare. Potentially, if those developments were going to the townships, people wouldn’t be interested in moving to the suburbs.
“We really do need to think differently about how we do development in this country. “There is certainly a need for, and a huge boom in, development in the townships; if you look right now at what places like Soweto are starting to look like, where people are taking charge and doing their own developments. But they are not involving the banks and financial institutions because there is no appetite or understanding of those markets on the part of those financial institutions.
“We need to identify what the real need and demand is and then be responsive to that demand. “It’s a challenge to developers, the government, financial institutions and lenders to start seeing the black areas, like townships, as development and investment opportunities,” she says.